Legislative Updates - 13 February 2017

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Dear Friends:

This is GrassRoots’ third weekly legislative update of this year’s General Session of the Utah State Legislature.

At this time (three weeks into the session), there are about 600 numbered bills for this session. Here are some bills that we consider to be noteworthy.

Two self-defense bills

HB198, “Concealed Carry Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Lisonbee and Senator Weiler, would:

  • establish a provisional permit to carry a concealed firearm;
  • stipulate that individuals must be at least 18 years of age, but no more than 20 years of age, to obtain the permit;
  • stipulate that the holder of a provisional permit issued by the state must meet eligibility requirements, including minimum age requirements, to carry a concealed firearm in another state; and
  • prohibit a provisional permit holder from carrying a concealed firearm on or about an elementary or secondary school premises.

HB198 passed the House Judiciary Committee 10-1 on February 7th and awaits action by the full House.

Extending recognition of rights of self-defense, in this manner, to those 18 to 20 years of age, is a sound step. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on HB198.

HB259, “Duty to Retreat Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Maloy and Senator Dayton, would amend existing statute to:

  • provide that a person is not required to retreat from an aggressor even if there is a safe place to retreat to;
  • prohibit a trier of fact from considering whether a person who did not retreat from an aggressor acted reasonably; and
  • prohibit a prosecutor from implying or arguing that a person who did not retreat acted unreasonably.

HB259 awaits action by House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee.

Already existing statute states that “A person is justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if the person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the person or a third person as a result of another person's imminent use of unlawful force, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

The clarifications to this law proposed by HB259 are helpful in avoiding a situation in which aggressors might assume that their intended victims have a legal duty to retreat. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on HB259.

Two bills relating to rights of property owners

HB178, “Good Landlord Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Brian King, would

  • prohibit a municipality from requiring a residential landlord to deny tenancy to an individual based on the individual's criminal history.

HB178 passed the House Business and Labor Committee 8-5 on February 1st and awaits action by full House.

Every landlord should be allowed the freedom to rent to whomever he or she wishes. Furthermore, we do not want people just released from jail to automatically become homeless; rather we want them to, as much as possible, embark on normal, productive lives. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on HB178.

HB253, “Short-Term Rental Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Knotwell, would prevent a political subdivision from prohibiting:

  • a person from listing or offering a short-term rental on a short-term rental website; and
  • an owner-occupied short-term rental.

HB253 awaits action by the House Business and Labor Committee.

Property owners should be free to rent, or otherwise use, their property as they please. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on HB253.

Other bills catching our attention this week

HB36Substitute, “Affordable Housing Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Edwards and Senator Weiler, would:

  • create the Economic Revitalization and Investment Fund;
  • establish requirements for the distribution of money from the fund;
  • modify state low-income housing tax credit provisions;
  • appropriate in fiscal year 2018: to the Department of Workforce Services -- Economic Revitalization and Investment Fund, as a one-time appropriation: from the General Fund, $4,000,000; and
  • appropriate in fiscal year 2018: to the Department of Workforce Services -- Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund, as a one-time appropriation: from the General Fund, $2,000,000.

HB36Substitute passed the House 50-22 on January 26th, and the Senate 2nd reading 26-3 on February 1st, and awaits action on the Senate 3rd reading calendar. Due to its significant fiscal note, final action on this bill may be delayed until the last week of the legislative session.

Provision of affordable housing and management of economic revitalization are best left to the private sector. We would prefer a tax cut to the expenditures proposed in this bill. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB36Substitute.

HB159, “Amendments to Voter Registration”, sponsored by Representative Handy, would:

  • provide that an individual who applies for or renews the individual's driver license or state identification card will be registered to vote unless the individual opts out;
  • provide that an individual is not guilty of fraudulent registration if the individual is ineligible to register to vote but is inadvertently registered to vote under this bill.

HB159 awaits action by House Government Operations Committee.

Should we try to register people to vote en masse via the DMV? Should we increase the likelihood of registering non-citizens to vote? Should a person be automatically registered to vote without any conscious initiative on the part of the prospective voter? No. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB159.

SB115, “Compulsory Education Revisions”, sponsored by Senator Anderegg, would:

  • reduce penalties for a parent of a truant school-age child (from Class B Misdemeanor to infraction on first violation and to Class C Misdemeanor on second violation);
  • amend requirements related to excusing a home-schooled student such that the parent only need provide a signed statement (as opposed to the “signed and notarized affidavit” required under current statute); and
  • prohibit a court from ordering “detention for, or place in state custody, [for] a minor found in contempt of court based on a violation of orders directly related to a citation for habitual truancy.”

SB115 awaits action by Senate Education Committee.

SB115 grants more parental control and more respect to the role of parents as the most important characters guiding the education and upbringing of their children. It also reduces the penalties for non-violent truancy “crimes” . . . that may not even be crimes at all. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on SB115.

Updated status on bills mentioned in earlier GrassRoots updates

SB29, “Utah Marriage Commission Amendments”, sponsored by Senator Christensen and Representative Edwards, would increase the marriage license fee by $20, while also offering a couple a $20 rebate if both parties complete premarital education or counseling that meets specific criteria.

SB29 passed the Senate 2nd reading 17-12 on February 10th, and awaits action on the Senate 3rd reading calendar.

We are concerned that the government would be getting deeper into the business of approving marriage counselors, and of creating the content of pre-marriage lessons. (Who knows where that might end up?) We would do better to leave pre-marital counseling to individuals, churches, and others in the private sector, and keep marriage license fees down. GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on SB29.

SB60Substitute, “School District Amendments”, sponsored by Senator Davis and Representative Hutchings, would require a private school to:

  • provide local education agencies with personally identifiable information of students with disabilities; and
  • provide parents of students with disabilities information regarding individual rights and school resources.

SB60Substitute passed the Senate 3rd reading 23-5 on January 31st, and awaits action by the House Education Committee.

As mentioned in previous updates, this is unwarranted regulation of private schools. GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on SB60Substitute.

If you have any questions about these bills, GrassRoots’ position on these bills, or related matters, please contact either of us or any other member of the Board of Utah GrassRoots.

Sincerely,

Steve Stromness
Vice-Chairman, Bill Review Coordinator, Utah GrassRoots
steven.stromness@gmail.com
435-637-5248

Don Guymon
Chairman, Utah GrassRoots
donguymon@gmail.com
801-574-9461

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